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Why Us director Jordan Peele is leading an exciting new age of horror movies


Following the incredible, Oscar-winning success of his debut movie Get Out, director Jordan Peele is back to scare the living daylights out of us once again.

That's because his latest film Us hits UK cinemas in March 2019. Before bringing you the trailer, we're here to explain why Peele's work has helped establish this as the most exciting time for fans of all things frightening...

He's paved the way for other first-time and rising directors

It's hard to believe that Get Out marked former comedian Jordan Peele's first foray into directing, and his remarkably accomplished debut film has certainly paved the way for some other fresh faces behind the camera.

In particular, he proved that first-time directors can fully exploit provocative, low-budget and thought-provoking scenarios, emboldening other film-makers in the process. In 2018 director Ari Aster made his highly acclaimed feature film directorial debut with Hereditary, a family melodrama that goes to hell with a formidable central performance from Toni Collette.

Perhaps better known for his acting, particularly for his role as lovelorn Jim in The Office (US), John Krasinski also moved into directing with his film A Quiet Place, in which he starred alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. While this was not his first time directing, this was certainly the film that got him noticed, generating critical raves and box-office gold in its story of a family besieged by creatures that hunt via sound.

Jordan Peele is at least partly responsible for allowing some of these new and up-and-coming directors to share their terrifying visions with us, and it's prompted new audiences to sit up and start taking notice of horror films once again.

He's proved there's different ways of scaring people

Get Out deviously mixed satirical horror and thrills to brilliantly entertaining effect, and its scare tactics were certainly unique. As well as some of the usual horror tropes (a few jump scares and people standing in windows), Get Out played on some very real fears, both comical and social.

A lot of people will have experienced the fear of meeting their partner's parents for the first time, so instantly we can relate to the situation that Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) finds himself in... although of course he has very different reasons to feel terrified later on.

The theme of racism plays heavily in Get Out and again it taps into that very real notion that many minorities would have experienced when it comes to discrimination and being stereotyped.

With his latest film Us, Peele is suggesting the thing to be feared most is ourselves, and the trailer certainly makes it look like this film will be full of surprises.

He's made Hollywood sit up and take notice of horror

Horror films rarely make an impact in awards season. But Get Out proved to be one of the few exceptions, picking up Oscar nominations for Best Actor, Original Screenplay (which it subsequently won – Peele made history as the first-ever African-American winner of the prize), and even the prestigious Best Picture.

The only horror movie to have ever won Best Picture was The Silence of the Lambs in 1992, so Get Out's nomination in the same category was historic in and of itself.

Now poised to repeat his Get Out success with Us, Peele has even enlisted Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther actress Lupita Nyong'o to star in it, further lending a sense of prestige and dramatic weight to his new movie.

This chilling story focuses on a beleaguered family who come face to face with their demonic doppelgängers, and what happens when they're forced to confront the most disturbing aspects of their own selves.

He's leading the way for 'elevated horror movies'

Horror has headed down an increasingly high-brow route in recent years, whether it is effortlessly combining genres, enlisting A-list stars to appear in them, or grappling with increasingly provocative themes.

While it had a limited release, Luca Guadagnino's remake of Dario Argento's horror masterpiece Suspiria proved that you could successfully mix art-house film-making with the usual shock and gore of horror. And the aforementioned Hereditary – with its incredible central performance from Toni Collette – proved that the issues closest to home such as family and grief could be the thing to stand-out amongst the scares.

We can credit Jordan Peele and Get Out for establishing a more receptive landscape towards 'elevated horror'. This is defined as a distinguished variation on the genre as discussed by SlashFilm. Long may the trend continue.

It'll be interesting to see what Peele tackles after the horror theatrics of Us. In the meantime, expect the unexpected, as we continue to march into a deliciously chilling new era of horror cinema. Us is released on 15th March.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.